Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma has taken part in a debate in Parliament to help raise awareness of the increasing problem of fatty liver disease.
According to health experts it is thought that up to one in three people are at risk of this disease which if left undiagnosed can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.
Speaking on Thursday (8 June 2023) at the first ever parliamentary debate on “Preventing Obesity and Fatty Liver Disease, Mr Sharma said: “Despite being a leading cause of premature death in the UK, liver disease has not been appropriately prioritised by the Government and was overlooked in the major conditions strategy. Fatty liver disease is a public health emergency.”
Mr Sharma added: “Liver disease mortality rates are outpacing those for other major conditions, such as diabetes or respiratory conditions, which have stabilised or improved over the past 40 years.”
The British Liver Trust is calling for the Government to introduce preventative measures that create a healthier environment for everyone and reduce the promotion of foods high in fat, sugar and salt and improvements in early diagnosis of the disease.
The debate was organised to coincide with International NASH Day, a global initiative aimed at raising awareness of the condition of non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
In Ealing, more than 57% of adults are overweight or obese while for children the number is nearly 41%.
Health experts say non-alcohol related fatty liver disease is caused by having too much fat in the liver. Non-alcohol steatohepatitis (NASH) is a more serious form of the condition, which can lead to liver cancer or liver failure. It is estimated that four in five people affected by NASH are completely unaware that they have it as there are usually no symptoms in the early stages.
In addition to fatty liver disease, obesity can also increase the risk of developing many other potentially serious health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke.
Pamela Healy, chief executive at the British Liver Trust said: “Liver disease is the public health emergency that no-one is talking about, killing more than 10,000 people every year. Obesity is a key driver and if current trends continue, it will be the leading cause of liver disease, overtaking alcohol, by the end of this decade.”
Ms Healy added: “Carrying excess weight has become the prevailing standard and urgent action is required from the government to address the easy access and excessive availability of unhealthy food, which is often cheaper than healthier alternatives.”
The British Liver Trust offers more information on its website along with an online quiz to check on the condition and if you are at risk.